Restaurants must find their success factors

Do restaurant owners think that they possess the recipe for business success? Sure they do, but so did many owners of failed restaurants as well. When asked, most owners can immediately name a list of factors that make restaurants successful; yet only those who have done their homework know the right mix to execute on to sustain healthy profits. But finding the right blend is not as trivial as most might think because there is no one-size-fits-all list of success factors that work for all restaurants and for all market segments, and which elements are more important than others to implement depend on market sectors, economic conditions, demographic, and many other influencing causes that continually shift their positions along the importance scale. To keep making healthy profits and avoid becoming business casualties, restaurant owners ought to validate and adjust their success factors if needed to ensure alignment with their market conditions from time to time.

The four most crucial factors restaurants need to command today 

Service, atmosphere, value, and enticement rein as the four most vital elements that restaurants today need to deliver well to succeed. These SAVE factors, coined from the first letter of each component, should be viewed in the following way for the restaurant industry.

  • Service: The world has entered into a service economy era in which demand for quality service has been infused into the restaurant clienteles’ DNA. Customers expect quality levels of services to commensurate with the restaurants’ market segments. They would not anticipate being served by stewards in fast food outlets, nor would they expect to be waited by attendants who are underdressed, disheveled, or disrespectful in any full service restaurant. Therefore restaurants must deliver the right quality level of service that is compatible with the market segments where they belong. Under-delivering of service is disastrous, but over-serving might also intimidate diners from returning because some of these patrons might be embarrassed for having underdressed, or simply disturbed by the extra pampering beyond their comfort zone.
  • Atmosphere: consumers from different demographic groups prefer different atmospheres. Young adults may prefer louder and faster background music, and matured folks may seek out more serene and calm settings. Dining purposes also dictate atmospheric choices. To lunch over a business gathering, eaters might select outlets with quiet and light music in the background to allow them to carry on business conversations over their meals. If the restaurant is targeting young working class adults for after work hours, hip hops or songs just topped the recent billboards might be the music of choice. Bright lights, big screen TVs blasting sports events might be right for some occasions, but dim settings might be better for others. It all depends on which market that the restaurant targets. Eateries ought to carefully choose the right music to play, the right paintings to hang, the right attendant clothing, the right lighting, the right furniture, and the right neighborhood in order to create an atmosphere favored by their target customers.
  • Value: How many times have we heard the words stagnation, recession, and unemployment on TV and public conversations? How often have we learned about store closings, profit plummeting, and layoffs on radios and from friends? In the cycle of diminishing and uncertain prosperity, consumers have become more calculated. They want the biggest bang for the buck. The author had lunch with a dozen of coworkers at a pretty high priced steak house last year. The price was set at the expected level, the background music was tolerable despite being a little loud for business meals, the neighborhood was good, but our meats did not even weigh two ounces and the side dishes contained less than a spoonful each. None of us ever returned because we were not impressed by the values it offered. Price, quality, and quantity are equally important for consumers to determine values. Skimming on any one of these axes is a quick and sure way to devalue a restaurant’s offerings and to move it out of its target clientele’s selection list.
  • Enticement: In a time with explosive information and uncertain economic future, purchasers have become comparison shoppers when making their buying decisions. The edge to tip customers over to spend in their stores rather than their competitors’ becomes one of the trump cards requiring restaurant owners to hold in their hands. Creating delicacies that customers favor and could not resist is one way to win devout patrons. Riding the current trend of health consciousness to carry less calories, lower sodium, low saturated fat, and baked instead of fried items on their menus is another. Or restaurants could offer something unique that are not available elsewhere. To be enticing, the offerings have to be distinguishing and cajoling.

The market analytics prescribe SAVE factors

The article “Study: service, value keys to restaurant choice” published by the National Restaurant Association highlighted from the survey they took on young adults in 2012 that the top four restaurant selection criteria are: Service 97%, atmosphere 93%, value 93%, and favorite items 90%. Everyone knows that patients who do not follow their doctors’ prescriptions are not likely to stay healthy or recover from illnesses. Restaurant owners, will you fill the SAVE prescription affirmed by market analytics?


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Author: Chi-Pong Wong (08/2013). All Rights Reserved.

Source: Original Text (based upon first hand knowledge).

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Chi-Pong Wong is a seasoned thought leader in program management, customer experience, and supply chain strategy. He is an influencer on several LinkedIn groups and has published on leading online magazines including Project Times, PM Hut, Project Management, Customer Think, ServiceDirectors.org Business Review, UX Matters, Supply Chain Brain, and other popular journals. He earned a MA in Economics at SUNY @ Stony Brook, and a MS in Computer Science at Duke University. He has worked previously at Arrow Electronics, IBM, STMicroelectronics, NEC Electronics, and is currently with Hewlett-Packard. He can be reached at Linkedin